Category Archives: Floral/Botanical

Iris Painting in Progress

It might be fun, for a change, to share a painting in progress. I chose to paint these irises  because I am in love with the light captured in the photo and purple is one of my favorite colors to work with. I had spent a few hours the day the photo was taken enjoying all of the flowers in my country garden. The fresh air, warm sunshine and the peace and quiet on that late spring day was quite lovely. This is a nice way to remember a magical moment.

This first photo is actually at the second stage of the painting process on this piece. Here, I am beginning to work on it outdoors at the St. Albert ArtWalk in front of St. Albert Place.

A Few Technical Details

The canvas was sanded, prepared with 2 layers of GAC 100 before hand. It was then coated with a thin layer of quinacridone magenta mixed with gloss glazing medium. After allowing it to dry for a few hours, I drew the shapes on the canvas fairly accurately with a watercolor pencil. This worked well because corrections can be made easily with a moistened cloth. At the ArtWalk event, I began to block in the background so that I could view the overall design more easily.

painting in progress, pink background, loose shapes

Here we are at approximately the third stage.

Blocking In

This is one of the easy stages and the image progresses quite quickly. After this initial block-in, I began to focus on creating some of the background colors and shapes. Later, I tackled blocking in some of the highlights and shadows in the flowers themselves. It was also helpful to introduce some of the more intense purple color to help me compare the strength of the other colors.

purple and white irises, flowers, painting in progress

Quite a bit has been filled in since the previous photo.

Coming Together

The quality of the iris painting in progress still appears pretty rough to me and will need several more layers. It does look like it’s coming together quite nicely already. The most fun will be refining all of the details, especially the subtleties of color that will make these irises interesting to look at.  Deciding which areas of the image to emphasize and which to push back is part of my thought process.

purple and white flowers, close up iris flowers, realistic painting

This seems to be really coming along nicely. Handling the lines in the petals takes a bit more focus to get the patterns right.

Concentrated Effort

Having had very little painting time this summer and fall means that it takes a bit more energy to focus on the intricacies of this iris painting. Sometimes the details in the grey tones and the stripes on the petals took more concentration than they would had I painted more often. Stay tuned as more photos are posted during the journey to completion.

painting of white and purple iris flower

Here we are at about 85% complete!

The Home Stretch

Since the weather has become wintry and a few other tasks in the house and office have been taken care of, I feel there is more room and energy available for me to re- focus on this painting in progress. It seems to take a while to switch gears sometimes and re-arrange my routine to paint more during the day instead of just after supper. Making the refinements at this stage is pretty satisfying. The next question is what should be done with the background?

three white and purple irises painted realistically

This is pretty close to complete.

Painting in Progress Nearly Complete

There was a lot of back and forth as I worked on the background. Adding shapes, then taking them out; rearranging shapes and colors, pushing them back again. The stripes on the purple petals took a bit more concentration in order to get the patterns right and were so much fun to paint! These hues are achieved not through mixing paint colors, but by a careful layering process. At this stage, it feels as though the painting is complete or very near. I will let it rest for a few days, maybe turn it to the wall and re-examine it later to see if anything needs to be adjusted.

Nose to the Ground

Sometimes it’s the tiniest things that grab my attention. It is not uncommon to find me in the yard or elsewhere, nose to the ground, butt in the air, searching for unusual things to paint.  I always find something down there. Not all of it is inspiring or canvas worthy even if it seems so in that particular moment. This is also the zone where I have found some of the most stimulating ideas for painting.

Purple Inspirations

close up view of a single purple viola flower, nose to the ground surprises

Above: “Little Johnny”, original acrylic by Judy Leila Schafers, 20″ x 16″, circa 2003, sold

I have always been drawn to all things purple, and often have the desire to explore this color and it’s variations again and again.  One spring morning when the light was perfect, I grabbed my camera and headed out to the garden. Stimulating compositions were begging for my camera to capture them. The opportunities for unique inspiration were everywhere! 

Nose to the Ground, Face to Face

As I turned from photographing some gorgeous lichen covered rocks, there he was; a tiny deep purple fellow glowing mightily in the morning sun. I remember having to kneel on the dewy, mulch covered ground with the camera only a couple of inches from his sweet little face. Barely noticing that my knees and elbows were being annoyed by prickly things, I photographed him from every manageable angle. Once the possibilities had been exhausted, it was time to move on with my day. 

Love at Second Sight

The final photos that inspired the painting above, definitely raised my heartbeat as soon as I viewed them. This was during the 35mm film days when you had to wait until the roll was full and had been developed. I remember the moment that this little fellow showed up. There he was, in my stack of newly processed photos. It was love at second sight and he demanded to be portrayed in paint as soon as possible!

Honoring a Tradition

Both my grandmothers grew these little gems in their gardens and they hold a special place in my flower loving heart. Painting this flower might honor them in a small way and at the same time fulfill my ‘purple’ fix. These viola are called ‘Johnny Jump Ups” and have been included in quite a few paintings. 

back-lit deep purple viola and bud with leaves, found while nose to the ground

Above: “Here’s Johnny!” , original acrylic by Judy Leila Schafers, 36″ x 15″, circa 2011, sold

Wow Factor

You may find me shooting copious photos from different angles in quest of the “Wow Factor”. I can often find a few moments to satisfy my quest for something special, no matter the weather and length of my task list. My nose to the ground position can be a bit comical at times but this ongoing search has expanded my mind as to the possibilities of what might constitute a great painting.  Being receptive and curious about what nature will show me has resulted in some fantastic perspectives and nurtured my art evolution. I will keep my nose to the ground occasionally, with the expectation of finding many surprises going forward.

The more you are open to seeing, the more you will notice!